tv Tavis Smiley PBS May 27, 2011 2:00pm-2:30pm PDT
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. first up, a look at the continuing rift between u.s. and pakistan following the raid that killed osama bin laden. julie mccarthy is the pakistan- based correspondent for npr at the time of the u.s. mission. also, the summer travel season kicks off this memorial day weekend. the polls show a record number of americans will be hitting the roads. a conversation about trouble with travel writer paul theroux on his latest book, "the tao of travel." as you join us, julie mccarthy and paul theroux coming up.
>> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: julie mccarthy is a foreign correspondent for npr who has spent much of her time of late reporting from pakistan. there continues to be tension
between the u.s. and pakistan following the raid that killed the world's most wanted terrorist. an honor to have you. >> a total pleasure. tavis: let me tell you congratulations. you have been picking up all kinds of awards. the peabody, you deserve it. >> thank you. a tremendous honor. tavis: you are in that is dangee now getting that danger to get these stories going, i'm sure it is nice to know that this is being recognized and you receive these esteemed awards. >> this is my 25th anniversary at national public radio. this is a wonderful way to mark that milestone. we are in the thick of it. we are producing it. you are not thinking about the accumulation of it all because this is really about what is the next disaster up. you are on a locomotive that
does not stop. when it does and someone says your honor, it is extraordinary and extremely gratifying to know that people are interested to hear what is going on in that part of the world. i think that that is a big part of the award is that pakistan is in the frame. this is a big part of the foreign-policy narrative. this is a tense part of the narrative that the foreign- policy apparatus has to deal with now. this is likely to become much more so after the capture and killing of osama bin laden. >> i want to talk about pakistan and the u.s. some might regard this as a softball pitch across the plate. it is not. you mentioned this is your 25th anniversary at npr. npr has been under a vicious attack over the last few months. it is worth noting that npr is the only network of all the
networks that has picked up listeners over these last few years in this country and around the world. what is it about the reported that npr is doing that has people tuning in to hear what you are doing? >> i think that people want to hear things in depth. first of all, they want to know what is going on in the world, not just the u.s. national public radio has made a huge commitment to expanding its foreign news coverage. that is answering a call to the listeners that they are telegraphing to us. they want to hear about the world and an intimate way. radio is an extremely intimate medium. it allows people to take in harrowing stories, touching stories, stories that are life of forming -- that are life affirming, which is what i try
to do. to make people feel that yes, there are divergence is that you have to understand, but there are many of virtues but the way we live. those are the stories that the audience response to and they touch and feel and like. tavis: i take your phrase "life affirming," contact that for me. -- unpack that for me. we are offering a balanced view. the lives that are being lost. when you say life affirming, what do you mean? >> what i mean is to present an entire picture of a country and the way it lives. yes, it is under tom well, yes, it is dealing with the terror attacks. -- yes, it is under turmoil. the budget is not enough for education. they are having to deal with all
of these national traumas and in the middle of all of that, life still gets lived, babies get born, people get married. children graduate from school. all of the touchstones of celebration that people know around the world still take place. you of farm life. you tell the story of floods. -- you affirm life. just the indomitable spirit of people having to soldier on and allowing us to be exposed to their lives. crisis as opportunity. so, all of that i think affirms a common experience that people here have and that is what i think we need to do just as much of to have the world's understand. the place is not a cartoon, this is a complex multi laird, multi
dimensional an ancient culture. -- this is a complex, a -- tavis: our relationship with pakistan is getting more and more tense. what is the situation post killing osama bin laden? >> the take away is that we see in very stark relief two different dimensions on how to view the world. we look at this and say, my god, osama bin laden has been in pakistan, not living in the tribal areas but living within shouting distance of the major training military center in pakistan for five years. we are staggered by this. how could this be? they look at this and a very different way. they are not asking themselves -- well, they are asking themselves how could he be here for five years. but then, this is a violation of
their sovereignty. they asked, how did the americans land here, pull someone out, kill him, and then not tell us until they went out of the airspace. they look at this is a hostile act. tavis: that makes sense. what i do not understand is prior to the capture and killing of osama bin laden, this same country had been allowing us to send predator drones to kill people, often times innocent women and children. you have been letting us drop drums and then you are surprised that we came to kill bin laden? -- you have been letting us drop drones. why are you surprised? i don't get to that. >> a lot of the discography. no one ever sees the tribal areas. -- a lot of this is geography. people cannot go there.
only the people that live there go there. i cannot go there unless the military takes me. they're not letting people go there. when you have someone who shows up two and a half hours outside of the capital and we can still navigate our way in and out undetected, this is a major humiliation for the army. the army which is the vaulted institution. the one thing that is supposed to work. tavis: they feel humiliated by what we did. >> there is a deep humiliation because they were not told and it was done with such stealth. tavis: does this affect our relationship? >> this is like a body blow. this had to be part of the countless as they sat at the situation room in the white house. they knew there would be blow back. the anti-american strain is deeper than it has been in years. it might be an idea. you know, people who are
progressives or liberal-minded are extremely offended by this. this is across the culture sort of out rage of how -- where did you get off, united states? john kerry shows up and gives them a quick lecture of how in danger they are of losing u.s. support. how did that go over? >> that is an interesting debate. you have one school that says to take your money and another one says, we had better figure out how to get this relationship back on track because we are in a world of hurt. tavis: what will prevail? >> you will see the relationship get back to some kind of normal state. normal is a relative term, as you know, tavis. tavis: there is a new normal in
pakistan. >> yes. before osama bin laden, it was difficult to navigate. this is more so now. i think they will find some kind of equilibrium. the trust to the degree we are trying to build the, the trust has been deal serious setback. tavis: when are you headed back to pakistan and why, given the danger, are you going back? >> it is important to be there. -- this is critical to us and the region. this is what we do. if you calculate how you can do that. you try to minimize your risk. tavis: you are a woman. that makes it how much more difficult? >> in some ways, yes, in some ways, no. i get access tt my male counterparts don't get. this is -- maybe this is just an added level of what it is that you need to cope with and deal
with. tavis: julie mccarthy has just picked up a peabody award for her wonderful reported that we hear every day on npr. congratulations and safe travels. >> a pleasure to be here. tavis: up next, bustling travel writer paul theroux. stay with us. -- best selling travel writer paul theroux. please welcome paul theroux back to the program. the renowned writer is the author of many books. his latest book is called "the tao of travel." paul theroux, good to have you on the program. >> nice to see you. tavis: the framework is different from your other books. >> i went to the library and i read books and read books that i had read in my life.
i tried to explore the classics of travel and the themes that make travel books. strange food on the road. how long did it travelers stay on the road. the books about a sense of place. discoveries, exploration. >> i want to ask two questions. the first is what makes a good travel book? what makes a good travel book? >> the travel book is a book that puts you in the shoes of the traveler. this is usually a book about having a very bad time. this is usually about having a miserable time. you don't want to read a book about someone having a great time in the south of france, even and drinking and falling in love. what you want is a book about a guy going to the jungle, going through the snow, having a terrible time trying to cross the sierra -- trying to cross
the sahara. getting very hungry and finding a camel. even a dog. whatever it is. then getting through. life is like that. travel is about failure or overcoming obstacles, overcoming failures. when a traveler is having a lot of good luck, that is not a happy book. that is a book that you say, i don't need that. i want a life lesson. of what a journey that reflects my life. -- i want a journey that reflects my life. tavis: what you just suggested is true, a book where everything goes well is not as interesting as a text where the traveler encounters and overcomes. does that kind of book inspire one to want to travel to that particular area? don't we want to go to places where we think we will have fun
and we will have fun and there will be no drama? if we wanted trauma, we would stay at home. we take vacations to go away from this. >> sometimes you read a book instead of going on a trip. the travel writer is doing the traveling for you. you have always wanted to go to the south pole. it is expensive, hard, the winter is pitch dark and freezing cold. there are many books. one is called "the worst journey in the world." and there are books that are about places we will never go. then there are books that aspires to go. i was in the peace corps in the 60's. i was inspired to join the peace corps buy books. i wanted to go to africa because of the books i had read about africa. there is a little-known book called "a venture into the interior." this was in malawi.
travel books also inspire rest. travel books are somewhat autobiographical. some are about love. some are about suffering. there are many different types of travel books like there are different types of novels. tavis: if you were going to recommend some, i know there is a long list, but if you were going to recommend some that are classics, what would be on the short list? >> the book i just mentioned, "the worst journey in the world." he was looking for the emperor penguins. there is a great neglected book called "no picnic in kenya." he was an italian and a british prison camp. he was in the prison camp with his mates, they were all
battalions. they were near mount kenya and he said to his friends, this camp is driving me nuts. let's break out and climb that mountain. they got their close together and they got the equipment. they made equipment. then they broke out of the prison camp, climbed mount kenya to the top, then came back and turned themselves then -- and turned themselves in. they left a note at the top. it took them about six weeks. they climbed through the bamboo and the snow. the idea of breaking out of a camp to climb a mountain. tavis: when you put your new book together, did you know that the kinds of travel stories you were going for or is some of this what you discovered in the research? >> a lot of these i read a long
time ago. some of them had been mentioned to me. i am very interested in books written by people who have never been there. edgar rice burroughs ever went to africa and he broke the "tarzan," stories. the "tarzan," stories. another author wrote a story and he won the nobel prize. he never went to africa. a lot of the reading was in a library, not the internet but actually getting books off the shelf. when you go to a library, you find a book here, that is an interesting one. i live in hawaii. every week, i go to the library and a comeback with a big bag of books to read and then i type
out the relevant passages and then i go back. a reading is also a journey, a process of discovery. in the process of reading, i was discovering these books. tavis: for a guy that travels around the world repeatedly, what is the value and joy of living in hawaii? you have been everywhere so you can choose to settle down anywhere. why hawaii? >> i fell in love with a woman who lives in hawaii. enough's said. >> our president came from hawaii. this is an archipelago, not one island. each island has its own identity. it also has an indigenous culture. there are people who have lived in hawaii for 1500 years and they have a culture and language, a real language.
i cannot say anything bad about it. it is far. when a places far away and hard to get to, it sometimes retains its identity. tavis: last time you were on the program we broached the subject. to your earlier point, it is true that books allow us to travel all around the world. the internet, for that matter, allows us to travel around the world without leaving the comfort of our home or office. the downside is that most americans, as you well know, do not own a passport. they do not own a passport. i happen to be going to china in just a few days. after my first experience there, i wanted many of the people that work with me to experience china. china is growing, this is
burgeoning, they have their own issues. if we are going to be in this dance with china, i think the people who work with me should understand this country better. i arranged to take about 30 people with me on this trip to china. i was amazed at the number of people on my staff who were getting their passports for the very first time. that is indicative of the american people at large. most of us do not own passports. what say you then about this global world that we live in and most of us never get it outside of the shores to ever see any part? >> if you don't have a passport, you have not seen the world. there is a certain limitation. i would be more surprised and more dismayed if the people you're talking about had not travelled in the united states. the united states is a world in itself. we have mountains, a desert.
we had a river that equals the yangtze river, the nile. we have among the greatest cities in the world. we have a large population, challenges. we have an indigenous population. america is a world it to itself. you have not been to china but have you been to montana? have you been to mississippi? have you been to arizona? have you been to florida? henry david thoreau said that there is a greater wilderness in new england than anywhere in the world. he said that when herman melville went to the islands in the pacific, he just went to the --, but i went to the woods. you can look at the world through reading. this book, "the tao of travel," is a guide to reading. not having a past board does not
surprise me nor does it is mamie. people who do not leave home. -- not having a passport does not surprise me nor does it dismat me. there is a book called "travels around my room," by a french man. he wrote a book about traveling around his room. leaving the u.s. helps. american history, american landscape, there is so much to know that it is very daunting. tavis: i take your point. is it either, or, or both hand? even if you travel around the country, which i have done extensively, there is a great benefit that cannot be underestimated or undervalued of getting outside of our shores. i think that you appreciate the country when you get outside of it and look back. you can appreciate it and even
critique it a more serious way from the outside looking in. >> when you travel, you realize how small you are. you are small. you need to be humble. you cannot be a big brash american. you think you have problems. you leave and did you see people have bigger problems. they have nothing to eat. they have no water. they have no shelter. -- they have no shelter. we complain about the government, the food, whatever it is. you go somewhere else and then you realize what people want to come to america. yes, you find out about a lot but you were talking about having a point of view. going back and looking at america, i was in africa throughout the 1960's. i was looking at the war in vietnam. i realized that these were all people who were thinking about being born to themselves.
-- bombed themselves. looking at the point of view of war, pestilence, famine, from someone in the third world gives you a perspective. tavis: "the tao of travel," is the latest book from paul theroux. pleasure having you. >> it was a pleasure to be here. tavis: good night from los angeles. as always, keep the faith. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with michael sheen. we will see you then. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes.
>> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] [captioning made possible by kcet public television]